The Class of 2015, whether they’re leaving high school or college—are inheriting a world that many claim is broken. These new grads possess the freshly educated minds and youthful enthusiasm that can help improve the world. And with the aid of books, they can hone their skills to gain a well-rounded perspective that will make the world—and themselves—better. Give the gift of knowledge this graduation season to your child, student, niece, nephew, grandchild, or friend, and you’ll be helping the next generation help the world. Here are ten fabulous books that will make perfect presents.
The world of social media is so flooded with banal, cliché, and off-putting quotes, readers have been known to spontaneously burst into flame. But great quotes, like poetry, are powerful tools because they crystallize elusive truths, nailing them to the psyche in an epiphanic flash. This project contains an unbelievably rich mine of rarely seen gems. Here’s one for the road: “The only common denominator in all your fucked-up relationships is you.”
If your parents didn’t raise you to believe that wasting food is sinful, Cinda Chavich is here to set you straight. The introduction to The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook lays out compelling environmental, economic, and philosophical reasons why we all need to do a better job of menu planning and upcycling our leftovers. From buying a smaller refrigerator to a weekly routine of cooking up bits and bobs from the larder, she has many useful, delicious ideas to waste less and eat more creatively.
The seven essays in Solnit’s book consist of politic-bending criticisms that expose the inner workings of patriarchy in areas of life where it dominates most, and where meaning and happiness are most often derived: relationships and family, work and the economy, and domestic and public safety. With a perfect balance of facts and creditable emotional appeal, this is a must-read journalistic work for those who consider themselves feminist and those who don’t…yet.
In the simple, compassionate language akin to other Buddhist works, this insightful book offers spiritual teachings, practical advice, and an entertaining story, all at once. The monk Shantideva, depicted in various situations in majestic illustrations, speaks to his friends about avoiding selfishness and applying benevolence to difficult situations. Concrete examples root abstract concepts in everyday life to provide wisdom for children and adults alike.
Reading Life’s Engines: How Microbes Made Earth Habitable may not cause one to add a portrait of a favorite prokaryote to the family photo album, but it is fascinating to learn how microbes evolved the complex, elegant machinery inside all our cells and made life possible on Earth. The book touches on issues of climate change, bioengineering, antibiotic resistance, resource depletion, and population growth, and how microbes are affected by each, as well as how they may be instrumental in undoing some of the destructive things humans have wrought.
The wide range of topics Melissa Pritchard addresses in her essay collection, A Solemn Pleasure, may at first seem unrelated to one another. The author herself is the keystone here as Pritchard celebrates the writer as witness to all that life offers, from the mundane to the silly to the profound. “Whose story is this?” she asks over and over again, knowing that if she can capture the individual’s experience, she has illuminated everyone’s.
This cookbook disguised as a comic book lends itself to hours of learning the art of Italian cooking in a pleasant and entertaining style. Filled with bright and colorful yet realistic illustrations, Chop, Sizzle, Wow! creates a fun atmosphere, rarely found cookbooks. All in all, the popularity of Italian cooking and the approachability of this project will help this book appeal to whole new generations of food lovers, home cooks, and kitchen-counter travelers.
The Handy Investing Answer Book has all the answers for the ordinary consumer who may not understand all of the complexities associated with modern-day investing. Tucci answers simple reference questions, such as “What is a ‘blue chip stock’?” “What is a ‘budget’?” and “What is a ‘home equity loan’?” He also addresses much larger issues, such as “How can I get out of debt?” “How can I find out how much house I can afford?” and “How do I begin to save for retirement?” Every question is asked from the perspective of the reader and answered briefly yet authoritatively.
To better understand humanity, as an exercise in confronting the truth, and to locate the pit of our stomach, we took a hard look at the issue of overpopulation and overdevelopment via the two hundred photographs in this book—we are much the wiser for our discomfort. In massive coffee-table format, this project just might achieve its goal of convincing the world that a “sustainable, collaborative, and hopeful future is dependent on global communication, discourse, and conversation.”
The intriguing Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life is a modern-day instruction manual for fighting the letdowns associated with reality that fall short of expectations, or as author Christine Hassler calls them, “expectation hangovers.” Well organized and well written, Expectation Hangover addresses a particular and widespread form of contemporary anxiety, providing actionable coping strategies for anyone who needs them.
Aimee Jodoin is deputy editor at Foreword Reviews. You can follow her on Twitter @aimeebeajo.